Rio Tinto’s Bougainville copper mine has been deemed economically viable and could be reopened in the next six years, a subsidiary of the company has said.
But scientists say the miner will have to improve its environmental record if it plans to reopen the Papua New Guinean mine.
According to the ABC, development at the mine in the 1980s resulted in a decade-long civil war, leaving more than 10,000 people dead.
But now the Bougainville government is looking for new development opportunities.
Senior lecturer in environmental engineering at Monash University and chairman of the Minerals Policy Institute, Gavin Mudd, told the ABC a significant amount of damage remains on the island and that this needs to be addressed before mining activities are once again ramped up.
The island has suffered the devastating effects of acid mine drainage, where minerals were left lying on the ground and have reacted with rainwater to produce sulphuric acid.
Mudd estimates clean-up costs could equate to $1 billion or more.
"But that cost at the moment is being borne by the local environment and the community.
"Their gardens are gone; their water quality is severely impacted."